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About an hour-and-a-half later, Dominguez said, he was surrounded by 25 to 30 members of the Bay of Pigs brigade and sympathizers. "They spat on me," Dominguez claims. "They hit me in the face; they threatened me. They called me a santero and a spy." Miami Police officers intervened and restored order without arresting anybody, Dominguez says. So the protester packed up his canvas and left.
Brigade secretary Esteban Bovo Caras disputes Dominguez's account. "There were no physical altercations," Bovo Caras says. "Maybe someone told him to go to el carajo." The brigade, Bovo Caras adds, respected Dominguez's right to protest. "As long as he doesn't damage the monument or anything like that," Bovo Caras says, "he can stay there as long as he wants."
After the alleged altercation, Dominguez refocused his protest against the brigade, the Bush administration, and Miami's Cuban-American congressional representatives. "They're worse than Castro," he says.
On April 22, Dominguez's life took yet another turn. Miami Police detectives collared him on a felony arson charge. According to the arrest affidavit, firefighters responded to a blaze that evening at 1609 SW Eighth St., an apartment building with retail stores on the ground floor.
Dominguez had called 911 and informed the dispatcher that the fire began on top of a mattress. An arson investigator later verified that was the cause. Police detectives confronted Dominguez later that evening and asked him how he knew the fire's cause. "Intuition," was the response, according to the arrest report.
Dominguez denies igniting the blaze. "It's all a conspiracy because they don't want me near the monument," the Cuban immigrant offers.
After he bonded out of jail, he returned to the monument May 4 the same day he was booted from another apartment at 1309 SW Sixth St. He pitched his tent, which covered a mattress to sleep on and an ottoman where he could sit and read. He was accompanied by Bibi, a black-and-tan Yorkie mix; and Bobi, a terrier with curly gray hair.
On May 9 around 2:00 p.m., Dominguez, Bibi, Bobi, and the tent were gone. According to Miami Police spokesman William Moreno, Dominguez was arrested on charges of threatening a public servant and resisting arrest without violence. Moreno says a team of police officers was conducting a "quality of life" sweep in the neighborhood when they picked him up.
Although Dominguez held a valid permit, he had tied the tent to the monument, which was not allowed, Moreno says. "He was asked several times to detach it, and he refused," the spokesman adds. "When they told him they were going to untie the tent, he told a lieutenant: 'I'm going to kick your ass.'"